TOPSALES: A Science-Driven Approach
Traditionally, sales managers assumed that if you wanted to see significant growth, you had to look at last year’s performance and then try to gauge how many new salespeople you could add, given the potential market and the ramp-up time that each new rep would require before generating revenue.
In today’s selling environment, it is not enough to rely on your star reps and hope for the best. Companies that follow a scientific approach take a much different course. They focus above all on increasing individual salesperson productivity. They can do so because the question of how to boost productivity is no longer a mystery to them.
Any sales organization that wants to boost productivity should use a scientific approach to selling based on a set of four levers(which make up the abbreviation TOPSales).
TARGETED OFFERINGS. Tailor your offerings to meet the needs of each segment, and make sure reps are selling the right wares to the right prospects. Systematically divide your customers according to factors such as potential value of the account, share of wallet, vertical market, type of product, and type of sale. Define roles and align incentives to help sales reps position and sell the offerings that are most appropriate to each customer segment.
OPTIMIZED AUTOMATION, TOOLS AND PROCEDURES. Bolster your technology tools with disciplined sales management processes, such as
◙ Detailed pipeline discussions,
◙ Systematic account and territory plan reviews based on standard guidelines,
◙ Defined lead distribution processes with tracking throughout the sales cycle for both reps and partners, and
◙ Electronic dashboards for reps and territories.
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT. Measure and manage inputs, such as pipeline metrics and competitive installations you want to target, but reward based on outputs. Calculate the time it will take new reps to begin generating revenue, and factor that in to your sales planning. Provide training and tools to reduce that time. Incorporate metrics, incentives, and skill development into compensation system to reward high-performing reps.
SALES FORCE DEPLOYMENT. Distribute your sales resources systematically, matching sales approaches and channels to the needs and challenges of each customer segment. Create terms for complex sales, and provide reps with support to help maximize their productivity.
All four of the levers help increase Sales-force productivity. What’s most interesting, however, is that they seem to have the greatest effect on lower-ranked performers and so narrow the gap between top-performers and everyone else.
(Abstract from the source: “The New Science of Sales Productivity” by Dianne Ledingham, Mark Kovac and Heidi Locke Simon—all partners at Bain & Company – www.bain.com │Article published by Harvard Business Review –www.hbr.org │Copyright © September 2006 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation)